It was settled by humans from the generation ship Calvin's Hope, but much of the original colony, a city called Home, was destroyed by a massive volcanic eruption that led to the deaths of about half the population and throwing the rest into a dark age. It took many centuries for the Sanctuarians to re-invent basic technologies and build new societies. The most powerful nation to rise from over a millennium of struggle was Ankhassar.
By the 19th Century PD, they had re-discovered telegraph technology as well as an understanding of germ theory. It was then that the People's Republic of Haven stumbled upon the lost colony with the help of a nearby wormhole. Making contact with the ruling shirkahna of Ankhassar, the Havenite government forced a treaty on the Sanctuarians to exploit their system's rich natural resources and build Bolthole, their most important - and most secret - weapons development complex.
In 1916 PD, after she and her followers had overthrown the Committee of Public Safety, President Eloise Pritchart met with the political leadership of Sanctuary. She explained that she felt morally compelled to recognize the sovereignty and independence of the Refuge System, as well as their ownership of the Bolthole complex and the rest of the local orbital industry. However, the ongoing Civil War and the continuing tensions with the Star Kingdom of Manticore left her in desperate need for Bolthole's shipbuilding capabilities. Shirkahna Ambart VIII assured her that the Sanctuarians were quite thankful for the overall improvement of their standard of living that the Havenites had brought, and that with her promises of better treatment in the future, they would reach a deal to keep Sanctuary hidden and provide its services to the Republic. (DF)